From the sublime to the obscene – we left Sarlat today to drive to Amboise, in the Loire Valley. On the way we visited the town of Oradour-sur-Glane. This town was the scene of a massacre of the entire village by the Nazis on June 10th 1944, when they rounded up the entire population, men women and children, and machine-gunned them and then set fire to the bodies and the village. The town was left as it was, as a memorial to the 642 who perished that day. There were a small handful of survivors. It’s very moving to wander along the streets, seeing the burnt out houses and businesses, with evidence of shop fittings, burnt-out cars and bicycles, and (for some reason) a number of sewing machines. In the church, where the women & children were killed, the walls are riddled with holes from machine-gun fire. Each building carries a plaque with the name of the owner and his/her occupation – it was clearly a thriving town, with lots of cafes, hotels, hairdressers and couturiers.
We spent a few hours at Oradour, and certainly left in a sombre mood. The rest of the day was spent driving, apart from a brief photo-stop in Amboise as we passed through. The castle was just catching the last rays of the setting sun, and looked quite splendid. The Loire valley is lovely, but we only have an overnight stop here, so we won’t get to see much of it.